Outcast: A New Beginning Review – A Whole New World

Appeal Studios really hit the nail on the head with this one. Outcast: A New Beginning is the reimagining of the old Outcast games, with smooth gameplay and sweet, sweet graphics. Explore the world of Adelpha and discover a dazzling place like you wouldn’t have imagined.

While the story in Outcast isn’t the glimmering hallmark of the game, it does have some interesting plot points. You play as Cutter Slade, an alien to the planet Adelpha, but human as we know. You start the game knowing as much as Slade does; randomly placed on the planet without a recollection of the past. It’s only within the gameplay cutscenes that we learn more about Slade. This type of storytelling (mind erase/amnesia) is typical in games because it’s the easiest form of storytelling. That’s not to say the developers chose “the easy way out” in terms of writing a story, but having amnesia is great because both the player and the in-game character are learning at the same time. It would be worse if Appeal Studios tried to branch the story off of the old Outcast, with the world continuing on while you’re just arriving to the scene. If you and the player character have different sets of knowledge, you wouldn’t feel as connected to the player character and you might have opposing feelings about what’s happening.

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These scenes are always weird. I’m not sure what would be a better alternative, but maybe something that doesn’t have you awkwardly follow a disembodied orb?

There are only a few problems with the story. While it feels a little tacky and generic, it is charming in spots. The transitions to certain cutscenes can be jarring at times. Your character will either die or step into a certain location and you’ll be transported to another world where new memories appear, or you get a glimpse of what is happening outside of the planet, like a premonition. The premonition doesn’t fit with the standard pacing of the story, however, so there’s a sense of buildup that leads to nowhere. The story also peeters out at brief sections while you’re completing missions. Some missions are not too interesting, as they’re just a way to get you to have a new weapon. A new weapon might’ve been cool, if it wasn’t for the fact that your starting pistol works perfectly fine in defeating enemies. Outcast also has a couple mishaps with terminology, like the discrepancy in character names (not important ones, so not that big of a deal), and generic writing for the tasks that can make navigation confusing.

Speaking on navigation, Outcast has some of the most enjoyable traversal mechanics I’ve played in a while. The high double jump feature allows you to get a greater sense of the world quicker. The gliding jetpack allows you to glide quickly on the path to get to your destination faster. There seemed to be a patch that made the jetpack glide stop auto-gliding, meaning you had to hold down the controls. I feel like this was a fault, as it was nice to go into route tracking mode easily. The only tricky part about having an intense vertical jump is the ability to quickly see what’s above you. I’ve found myself bonking my head repeatedly on overhanging ledges or missing a platform. The shrine challenges make the vertical problem more glaring, as you’re trying to quickly follow a magic orb through the dense brush.

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Battling enemies are a breeze when you combine the right weapon powerups.

The map of Outcast is full of wildlife, but there isn’t a lot to inherently explore. The lack of landmarks makes traveling off the path difficult, and most of the time if you’re off the path you’re just climbing up mountains. The world blends in with itself, very unlike other popular third person world exploration games, where there’s a tower or noticeable beacon in the distance that draws you towards it. Outcast pulls the player in all directions. If you’re trying to complete a mission, it’ll tell you there’s an urgent mission elsewhere, distracting you from the main goal. You start to wonder what really is the main storyline, or is everything simply a side mission.

As meandering as the world is, you can’t deny that it all looks amazing. All the creatures and scenery seem to be a part together in one space as a cohesive unit. The only things that break from the mold are the human-made structures, which helps portray the battle between world easier. The towns that you visit are all expertly crafted, with their own kind of theme in each one. It’s not as obvious as “sand world.” It’s subtle theming, mainly having to do with what resources are produced at that location. The place that is abundant in fruit has large treetop communities, while the beer-making village has a giant water wheel.

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Outcast is one of those games where it’s completely okay to chill in the woods for a bit.

The music in Outcast is an epic wave of orchestral music. The only problem is the audio programming and mixing behind it. The music can dip in and out in volume quickly, and sometimes overpower the dialog at times. The dialog acting is fun in a tacky sort of way, but that’s mainly due to the writing for the characters.

In summary: mildly interesting story, enjoyable gameplay mechanics, and a beautiful world that’s both artfully crafted in some areas, and confusing in some.

Jordan played Outcast: A New Beginning on PC with a review code. Outcast is also available on Xbox Series and PlayStation 5.

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